Ever since backpacking around South America several years ago I have developed a curiosity for Latin American cinema - both as a way of seeing the people and landscape portrayed, and also to know more about the culture. It’s been difficult to source films from the region - but those that have garnered enough international interest to get distribution have general been well worth watching.
Now that I am living in Chile my focus has turned to the homegrown cinema. Sadly, film production virtually ceased completely during the 16 years of Pinochet’s dictatorship (1973-1989), but more recently the industry has shown a lot of promise.
This is not my first visit to Chile, but having made a six month commitment I’m now learning as much as I can about the country. After only a week here I’ve already noticed the locals appreciating it when I pull out a bit of trivia - particularly the many Germans here who have more than 150 years of settlement in the south and naturally don’t appreciate flippant remarks about their ancestry.
The northern desert of Atacama is the world’s most arid and had no recorded rainfall between the period 1570-1971. I never made it there on my first visit, but it’s high on my list this time.
Chile has over 2000 volcanoes, 500 of them are potentially active - including the Puyehue-Cordón Caulle eruption earlier this year. My attempt to climb Mount Villarica was thwarted by poor weather conditions - but I’m keen to try again.
Easter Island was named after it was discovered on Easter Sunday in 1772. However, it is also commonly know by its Polynesian name of Rapa Nui, and in Chile by its Spanish title, Isla de Pascua.
Punta Arenas is the world’s most southern city and Puerto Williams is the world’s most southern town. A good way to start an argument is to mention this to an Argentinean as they like to claim Ushuaia as the ‘End of the World’.
In February 2010, Chile suffered an 8.8 magnitude earthquake which ranks as sixth largest earthquake ever to be recorded by a seismograph. The intensity lasted about three minutes and claimed 525 lives. In my hometown of Christchurch one year later, a magnitude 6.3 aftershock lasting only around 10 seconds and killed 181.
On New Years’ the port city of Valparaíso hosts the largest fireworks display annually in all of South America.
There is a Chilean independence leader named Bernardo O’Higgins who has more street names and statues than anyone else in Chile. He is called the liberator of Chile - not surprisingly for his efforts in defeating the Spaniards in Chile’s successful quest for independence in 1818.
The national slogan on the coat of arms is “Por la Razon or la Fuerza” (by reason or by force). If you like this sort of thing there is a giant flag hoisted outside Government Palace - photos don’t even begin to do it justice.
I look forward to adding to this knowledge over the next few months.
I’m a Kiwi web entrepreneur who has created a unique challenge-based goal setting social network called Day Zero Project. This website already has a following of over 40,000 participants creating and sharing their life goals and ambitions.
In September 2011 my web project was accepted into the Start-Up Chile entrepreneur programme aimed at attracting world-class early stage entrepreneurs to start their businesses in Chile. This journal is the story of my time in Santiago. I’ll try to capture the things I learn along the way and illustrate this with photographs of experiences and observations of life in South America from the perspective of this Kiwi.
Thanks for reading, you can also follow me on twitter at @triplux, and the project at @dayzero.